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Old 03-03-2019, 12:10 PM   #1
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

This took me longer to realize than it should have. My gut feeling is that disads, on average, are fairly priced compared to advantages and stats, but this is clearly wrong, for the following reason:

Almost everyone buys disads up to the limit.

(And every exception I am aware of was built by someone unfamiliar with GURPS character creation. Combat Reflexes, IQ, and DX are obvious point crocks to GURPS veterans, but they are not bought as often as the disad limit is hit. )

Why is this though? My gut is clearly wrong. After some noodling around, I have thought of the following:

1. Focus - folks often assign disads to areas that are not the focus of their character, and use the points they gain to be better at that focus. The stereotypical combat munchkin with -8 to reactions is the canonical example, but this is just generally common in many PC concepts. It is also the reason disad limits are so common - without them that PC would have -25 reactions but be able to kill everyone who looked at her funny because of it.

1.a. Externalities - one of the worst variants of this is disads that hurt the group, not the PC. "Enemy, very powerful, all the time," is the 4e example now that Jinxed has been mercy killed. I generally try to prevent this from happening, since the other players usually find it obnoxious, but it may be hard to spot before it happens. Mr. -8 reactions often thinks it is his duty to do all the talking because he is the strongest fighter, for some reason.

2. Definition (Character) - Some character concepts call for stuff that is an obvious weakness. A one eyed pirate, an honorable knight, or a scatterbrained wizard are all fun stereotypes, and disadvantages give your PC a little game mechanical cookie for playing a PC with a weakness.

3. Definition (Campaign) - Disads are also a tool that can be used to enforce campaign themes or rules. Inter PC loyalty, or duty to a specific NPC, or even "You are all guttersnipes with Status -2, Youth, and Wealth -2" are all things that give an in game reward for following the game guidelines.

What are your folks' thoughts on the matter?
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:27 PM   #2
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

I've never created a character that hit the suggested disad limit unless it's for a very low powered campaign.

I tend to define my characters by their weakness at least as much as by their strengths. That tends to push me away from other spotlight stealing disads.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:49 PM   #3
martinl
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
I've never created a character that hit the suggested disad limit unless it's for a very low powered campaign.

I tend to define my characters by their weakness at least as much as by their strengths.
Huh - when I'm going for "defined by disads" what usually happens is I go OVER the limit and then downgrade the overage to quirks or say "I'm taking this without compensation because it fits the character."
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

I am entirely in agreement. I has seemed plain to me since I first encountered Champions that disad caps are a concession that the rewards games pay for taking disadvantages are greater than the burden of the disadvantages. I suppose that the reason for it in Champions is that the designers wanted to make the PCs come out like comic-book superheroes. James Bond 007, which doesn't need to use disads to balance in features of characters who are very different from a healthy man of mainstream culture and military age, is much less generous with them.

My dissatisfaction with the Champions model of disads is one of the reasons that I was excited about F.A.T.E. when I met it disads don't give you advantages and strengths, rather, you get Fate Points when you are disadvantaged by your Aspects.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:58 PM   #5
martinl
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
My dissatisfaction with the Champions model of disads is one of the reasons that I was excited about F.A.T.E. when I met it disads don't give you advantages and strengths, rather, you get Fate Points when you are disadvantaged by your Aspects.
I have had moderate success with "You get a bonus CP at the end of the session if your disads came up an a way that is interesting and inconvenient for your PC." I wish I could say it was a great success, but while it made play more interesting, and took the burden of remembering everyone's disads off the GM's shoulders, it also lead to a certain amount of resentment from players who thought it was the GM's duty to make sure they got a chance to display a disad each session, and a certain amount of disad grandstanding, where a player would try to shoehorn a disad into a scene when it was not really appropriate.
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:00 PM   #6
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Of late, in my games, I just add the disads limits to the cp budget, and ask that the players take disads with a total value "around" the suggested limit.

In my current campaign, the 5 characters started with 25 points in mandatory disads (duty and sense of duty), and from 17 to 41 cp in further disads.
But each got 50 cp "more" to spend. No more, no less.

This avoid the quest for the last n points of disads to get exactly to the limit, and allow the player to have the character they want to play, while keeping a limit in place to avoid unbalanced abuse.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

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Originally Posted by Celjabba View Post
[...]
This avoid the quest for the last n points of disads to get exactly to the limit, and allow the player to have the character they want to play, while keeping a limit in place to avoid unbalanced abuse.
that might works. I experience the same. The players start our with maybe -30 pts in disads the thing actually fit the character and then starts flipping through the book trying to find "more points".


Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I've started saying to players that my disadvantage limit is "They must be functional". I have a soft limit where I the GM will push back at around [-35], but that varies by character design, and the -35 is just a guess, and certain disadvantages get more slack than others.
This is a really good guideline, but very, very subjective and so can lead to a lot of discussions.

I've started distinguishing between disads. My problem with many disads is when they have a lot that are all defining for the characters personality. If you have many disads that are more mechanical I don't mind it.

For instance, I don't mind a character with -1 ST, Skinny, Pacifisme (Reluctant killer), Impulsive, Overconfidence and Wealth (struggling) = total -45

Where someone with Impulsive, Overconfidence, Greed, Compulsive Carausing, Curious and Sense of duty Friends = total -45.
Such a character is going to be really, really hard to play if you want to live up to all those disads.


So the next game I'm going to run I will probably have a cap of maybe -25 pts. But then have a long list of disads that do not add to the cap.
(Alternatively I would not use a cap but let people choose 3 diads that are character-defining).


Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
I have had moderate success with "You get a bonus CP at the end of the session if your disads came up an a way that is interesting and inconvenient for your PC." I wish I could say it was a great success, but while it made play more interesting, and took the burden of remembering everyone's disads off the GM's shoulders, it also lead to a certain amount of resentment from players who thought it was the GM's duty to make sure they got a chance to display a disad each session, and a certain amount of disad grandstanding, where a player would try to shoehorn a disad into a scene when it was not really appropriate.
I have considered this for the longest time but been afraid to do it for all the reasons you list :(

Last edited by Maz; 03-03-2019 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 03-03-2019, 10:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maz View Post
Where someone with Impulsive, Overconfidence, Greed, Compulsive Carausing, Curious and Sense of duty Friends = total -45.
Such a character is going to be really, really hard to play if you want to live up to all those disads.
I think it would be fairly easy in most traditional adventuring games. I don't think such a character would live long, though. Too much poking of sleeping dragons.
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:21 AM   #9
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

In my experience this is an enforcement problem. I use to have this issue and would have players take all sorts of disads that just never were any form of inconvenience to the player. Then I started to keep a list of player disads when I was writing up session plans or keeping a list while running the game and "checking off" when a disad had come into play in a significant way.

This kept me aware of what the player disads were and what impact they were having on the game. If a -20 point disad wasn't causing significant problems for the player, then I'd look for more ways that it should.

Another options is to just drop the points gained from a disad that you don't feel is a burden.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:53 AM   #10
WingedKagouti
 
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Default Re: Disads: the Second Best CP Deal in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maz View Post
Where someone with Impulsive, Overconfidence, Greed, Compulsive Carausing, Curious and Sense of duty Friends = total -45.
Such a character is going to be really, really hard to play if you want to live up to all those disads.
I wouldn't call that character hard to play, just very likely to die in the first five minutes of gameplay.

Impulsive and Overconfidence make for a suicidal combo, add in Greed and the character easily gets into big troubly quick. With Curious on top of that they're likely trying to break into the nearest place that looks like it could have valuables, regardless of the amount of security present.

If anyone presented me with such a character I'd immedately ask them what their next character looks like.
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